Money Matters. Or Does It? a philosophy of money (begins September 27)

Money woes. Debt crisis. Loan me a fiver. How bland is American money! Love it, hate it, steal it, or kill for it. Money makes the world go round. The love of money is the root of all evil. Got to have money to make money. A penny saved …. Investment portfolio. Saving for retirement. Everyone should have good credit. Credit scores and personal worth. Richest man in the world. Time = money. Dying penniless.

In this course, we'll explore the experience of money from individual and group perspectives, what's necessary about money, whether it is ennobling to live without it or only disempowering. Partly, we'll examine conventional wisdom about money, partly we'll look at traditional wisdom about money (old saws, spiritual writings), partly we'll examine each one's relation to money and whether there is a uniquely American way of loving and acquiring wealth. The course itself will serve as a laboratory for experimenting with monetary experience.

The goal is to acquire some suppleness in living in the world of money, to loosen our attachments to it, and to fit it optimally into the complexities of contemporary life. Neither to love it nor hate it, for it is not worth that much energy. The goal is to emancipate ourselves from the love of money.

Activity: Sociatectural design of an ideal economy.

Potential topics

  • is money a thing or a practice?
  • is a revolution concerning money good or evil?
  • love it or leave it
  • fair distribution v. elimination
  • cash v. credit: is credit the new money? (including rights to your credit score)
  • the future as saved-for v. the future as borrowed against
  • spending and having and saving
  • alternative currency: local currencies, social currencies, reputation points in a rep economy, Rai Stones and their connection to Fort Knox and the Bank of London1: .
  • money discipline
  • getting paid: wage, salary, income and the relation between work and money; what is a human being's time worth? does it depend on the kind of work? does it depend on experience? does it depend on quality of work or product?
  • Utopias and the abolition of money: what does the desire to abolish money mean?
  • cost of living
  • interest and usury
  • having money to make money, but what if you have no money but credit?
  • exchange alternatives to money
  • The Jewish year of Jubilee (I don't think this was a Jewish specific thing, I believe it was common throughout the ancient world and mesopotamia. -Erik. Yes, it seems to have had some form prior to the Israelite period, but usually as an edict of a King (Babylonian). Among the Hebrews, it became a law. It could be counted on to come at regular intervals, and applied to everyone -Eric).
  • money and capitalism
  • kinds of wealth
  • what would a sabbath be for?
  • How to give things away: if its free is it worth anything?
  • what monetary practices create and preserve community, and at what scale? (tithing, charitable donations, tax deductions, handouts?)
  • no money of one's own: religious communities and enjoying life
  • funding the arts: does money corrupt? (If you knew how many hoops you had to jump through to get grants, you'd realize why public art is such a joke, it's either abstract or populist, and if it offends anyone, see you later alligator. Nobody funds art, people fund ideas or other people, art is often the vehicle used to sell those things -Tom. Okay, but you see, I am also thinking of museum entrance fees, paying for concert or performance tickets, buying art, commissioning artists, architect's fees, even buskers and punk bands passing the hat. Does money corrupt the art involved in those interactions? Does money corrupt the growing of food, the paving of roads? Which is the corrupting factor: the money or the hearts of the people? If money is corrupt or corrupting, is it because it is an object with a taint or because it is the expression of a social practice or system?)
  • why has money aesthetic qualities? why are national ideals imprinted on it?
  • giving or receiving money as a gift, instead of, say, a crystal bowl or an ox.
  • under what forces do one's attitudes about money develop?
  • compartmentalizing life: past-present-future, work-art-money
  • putting a price on things: meals, work, service, time, friendship

Possible Readings

  • Wendell Berry
  • religious teachings
  • Bolo'Bolo
  • Jacques Ellul
  • Paul Goodman
  • Elizabeth O'Connor

Teacher: Eric Buck
Schedule: Tuesdays, from 7-10 pm.
Location: Millstone House in Davis Square, Somerville
Cost: Pay what you can.
enroll

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